DETROIT - A Michigan militia leader and his son have pleaded guilty to a machine gun charge, two days after a federal judge dismissed more serious charges against them and five members of the group.
Hutaree leader David Stone and Joshua Stone pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing a machine gun in a deal with federal prosecutors in Detroit. The pleas end a six-week trial that began with seven militia members charged with conspiring to go to war against the government and to use weapons of mass destruction.
"Everything we did was defensive. We never did anything offensive," David Stone said. "And had nothing planned for offensive."
When asked if he regretted any of his comments or statements, David Stone said, "No comment on that one."
Federal Judge Victoria Roberts dismissed those charges Tuesday, saying the government's failure to present evidence of a specific plan doomed their case. Weapons violations were all that were left against the elder and younger Stone, both from Lenawee County, Mich.
They have been in custody for two years.
"Nearly hell on earth. Maximum security for two years for just casual speech," David Stone said. "We stood up for everybody's First Amendment rights in this nation. It was up standing up and the government getting to just do whatever they wanted to do and take your words that you had to say out of context. They can imprison anybody for anything that's been said."
David and Joshua Stone could be sentenced in August up to 10 years in prison for the gun charge.
"I'm not the black-hearted, evil person that the government portrayed me to be," Joshua Stone said.
-- Joshua Stone
Juror Dana Haley-Vicente said she and other jurors didn't believe the inflammatory speech made by the Stones and other showed a seditious conspiracy.
"You got to sit back and go, that's what they believe in. They've had their issues, they've dealt with police in different ways. They were angry because of their own reasons," she said
Who are the Hutaree:
The Hutaree are self-proclaimed "Christian warriors" who trained themselves in paramilitary techniques in preparation for what they say on their Web site is a battle against the Antichrist. On it's website, the group says it will be "prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren't."
Accusations that were against them:
During a series of raids in late March, authorities arrested nine members of the southern Michigan group. The government claimed they were scheming to kill a police officer then attack officers who attended the funeral in the first steps toward a broader rebellion.
Much of the government's evidence made public shoed militia members talking about killing police officers and attacking officers who turn up for the funeral. No specific plot with specific targets has been disclosed. The judge did acknowledge the group had "stockpiles" of legal weapons and ammunition. The FBI said it broke up the plot with the help of an undercover agent and informants.
-- David Stone Sr.
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